Mombasa resident fails in bid to dislodge Safaricom signal station

M-PESA Super App for Safaricom customers. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

A Mombasa Court has dismissed an application by a resident seeking to stop Safaricom from operating a base transceiver station (BTS) near his home over claims of noise and air pollution.

Environment and Land court judge Nelly Matheka declined to block Safaricom from operating the mast, saying Mr Ali Athman Hassan failed to prove the claims as the reports he tabled in court to support his allegations were conflicting.

The judge noted that the BTS—which contains a mast and a generator— has been on the site for 11 years and Mr Hassan, a resident of Mtopanga in Mombasa, only raised the complaint in 2018.

“I find that the Plaintiff/Applicant has not demonstrated the existence of exceptional and special circumstances in the case,” the judge said.

The resident said the station was opposite his plot and the generator was emitting hazardous gases that pollute the air, affecting his health, and that of his wife and his children.

He further claimed that the generator from the BTS vibrates and produces irritating noise that has affected his hearing.

Mr Hassan said he has complained to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) but the nuisance hasn’t been stopped.

Safaricom defended itself saying it acquired the BTS on Mainland North from Econet Wireless Kenya Limited, which had carried out an Environmental Impact Assessment Project Report and submitted it to NEMA before setting it up.

The company said the station has been in operation for over eleven years without any complaint, until 2018 when Mr Hassan raised the concerns.

Safaricom further said it contracted Mazingira Limited, an environmental expert, to carry out an environmental audit report, which it tabled in court.

The audit allegedly confirmed that the noise levels from the generator were found to be within the permissible range.

With regard to the smoke from the generator, the report said it was within the permitted air quality levels.

However, to accommodate Mr Hassan, the generator's exhaust pipe was relocated so that it faces away from his house.

The relocation, the court heard, was done in his presence, while the Electromagnetic Fields levels were found to be within internationally accepted standards.

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